“Safari View Controller inherits all the benefits of normal Safari by default,” said Dean Murphy, an independent app developer responsible for developing Crystal, one of the first content blockers for iOS 9, currently in beta.
As Ricky Mondello, a Safari and Webkit engineer, observed to an audience of developers at Apple’s 2015 WWDC in June: “What this means for you is, after you’ve switched your miniature web browser implementation over to Safari View Controller, you won’t get any complaints that your user’s ad blocker is not working. Pretty cool.”
While many advertisers and publishers might disagree with that last sentiment, in-app ad blocking in iOS 9 isn’t something to worry about just yet. There’s no indication that Apple plans to pull support for previous webviews in deference to Safari View Controller.
If Apple were to deprecate the iOS 8 webview, the app community would be thrown into chaos, said Alex Austin, CEO and founder of deep-linking startup Branch.
Thousands of app developers responsible for hundreds of thousands of apps use open source mobile development frameworks like PhoneGap or Cordova to build cross-platform apps for iOS and Android. Those developers rely on the old style webview to display a unified code base that works with both versions.
It’s not clear, however, if that same functionality will be available through Safari View Controller. And “if Apple took that away, it would be the end of a lot of apps,” said Austin, who regardless doesn’t see a “doomsday scenario” lurking. “I don’t believe it’s going to being widely adopted, at least for a couple of years,” he said.
While some apps, like popular messaging app Kik, which uses the traditional webview, are still on the fence about whether to institute Safari View Controller – according to Mike Roberts, head of messenger at Kik Interactive, the company hasn’t made its decision yet – others, including Twitterrific, are taking the plunge.
“Obviously not every app will adopt Safari View Controller immediately, but I suspect users will come to demand it eventually due to the increased consistency, access to their stored passwords, content blocking, etc.,” Heber said.
In terms of the actual content that users are looking to block, not all in-app advertising evokes the same, potentially negative, reaction from users, said Adam Ben-David, VP of platform at app monetization platform Supersonic, noting that rewarded video – a big revenue driver for most free-to-play apps – could be somewhat immune to the trend.
“Most users will likely be okay with keeping rewarded opt-in ads as they aren’t pushed in their face anyway, so they can ignore them already if they like,” Ben-David said. “It’s mostly banner [and] full-screen forced ads which users would like to get rid of.”
Safari View Controller can also be seen as another example of Apple’s drumbeat around privacy and data protection. It both supports SSL and maintains privacy around autofill by communicating with Safari’s cookie cache directly, rather than giving the host app access to that data.
“Safari View Controller runs in a separate process from your application, which categorically frees you from the responsibility of thinking about this important sensitive user data,” Mondello informed developers at WWDC 2015. “That's on us.”